It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. There are all kinds of reasons why — holidays, travel, weather, and most recently a personal loss which needs to turn into an opportunity for growth. I’ve ridden my motorcycle in that time for various reasons but not for passionate enjoyment. I would ride to and from work or to run errands. But not his day. On this day I was riding to heal, to get closer to God, and to my true self.
On the anniversary of Arizona statehood, the weather was gorgeous. I have no idea who will be reading this but more than likely, if you’re not in this region, your weather is not anywhere near as great as mine. There are few places in the country that would allow for an 80 degree motorcycle riding day in the middle of February. It’s an invitation when the conditions are this excellent. And I took full advantage of that invitation.
I knew with having Friday off I wouldn’t have much other traffic. The sun came up around 7:30 am and after a quick coffee and breakfast at the Starbucks coffee shop, the temperature reading on my display said 62 degrees. I had my winter gloves on, a Buff around my neck, and my leather vest underneath my leather jacket. I was very over dressed. I left the intersection of 24th street and Baseline and headed south towards the mountain.
I prefer this route to towards South Mountain because it takes you along the base of the park through neighborhoods and along golf courses. The side streets are only 25 mph but the slower speed makes it easier to take in the scenery to my left. I remember one time taking this same route to South Mountain and seeing a javelina along the side of the road. I had to stop and appreciate the chance to see one of the local beasts up close. On this day, there were no furry distractions which was too bad. There were also no other cars. It was early enough on this weekday that I knew I would have this ride all to myself. As I turn to go South on Central Ave. I pass a few horse stables and go through a pair of security houses before I’m officially in the park.
The Summit road starts with a sign reading, “… curves ahead. 15 mph”. I’m in third gear as I begin the climb on the road that starts out with sweeping lazy curves. Can I just say that I love the smooth well maintained road surface. At the lower speeds on twisty roads this surface compliments the experience ideally.
As I climb I drop into second gear and actively shift back and forth between first, second and third as the twists demand it. Even though I’ve ridden this wonderful road before I still really enjoy the balance and feel of this motorcycle. I can attack curves if I want or just lean in and flow with the bank of the road. The engine easily powers up the mountain with smooth transition between gears. Starting out with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” playing over my speakers is a great touch to the whole experience.
I decided to try out the new Victory app on my iPhone. I’ve logged in and activate the GPS tracking at the beginning of the ride. Then I plug the phone into the bike and take advantage of the music as the bike also charges my phone. I’m really curious to see what I can do with this app and this ride. If I haven’t explained it before, Victory made the option of a phone or MP3 player connection standard on their Vic XCs. I plug in the iPhone in the rear left saddle bag and have a control cluster on the left handle bar in order to manipulate the music and volume. The biggest question I get is, “Can you hear the speakers?” and the answer is yes. I hear them up to about 80 mph with the Arlen Ness windshield I added which takes care of the majority of my rides.
Towards the top of the mountain, you are given a choice to go to various look out points. I chose to head on TV Tower road first. For those of you who might read this who don’t live in Phoenix, the very top of South Mountain is populated with several towers for television, cell phones, Ham radios and pretty much everything else you can think of in regards to broadcasting a signal. At night the towers are defined by bright red lights which you cannot only see vividly from the air but also serve as a kind of light house for the rest of the city. You can pretty much see the towers from any part of mid-town or uptown Phoenix.
By the time I enjoyed all the twisties to the end of the TV Tower road I stopped at a circular parking lot that showcased the towers on the one side and a gorgeous vista of the South East Valley on the other side. As the sun was low in the sky I took a panoramic photo. There were no other cars. I was free to fully enjoy this moment without interruption. After a bit, I took out my phone and marked a waypoint on the Victory app.
Next I headed back down the road and chose the Buena Vista Lookout for my next stop. It was a short trip to the lookout point and I was behind an older pick up truck. As we arrived at the parking lot the driver got out and carried his newspaper to a bench about 100 feet from the parking lot. I had no idea who that man was but I respect a man who takes the time to drive up a mountain to read a paper overlooking all of Phoenix.
A nice surprise was a helicopter that had decided to land just up from the parking lot I was in. On the side of the chopper it said Fort McDowell Casino. I had noticed it when I was at the parking lot at the Towers because the helicopter was at a lower height than I was. Now having ridden to Buena Vista I was below the helicopter’s landing. I took a few moments to take some photos and then mark another waypoint in the Victory app before I left to go to the last stop, Dobbins Lookout.
Dobbins Lookout is by far the most popular of all the scenic points on South Mountain. There were a lot of other cars here; people who had just finished hiking workouts and tourists with cameras. I have been up here on several previous occasions. For me the TV Towers road was a brand new experience and as such seemed to fit better for today’s ride. I really just wanted time to myself to ride and connect with such a wonderful opportunity to ride today. I didn’t spend much time at this lookout because of my familiarity but I would highly encourage anyone else who rides up here for the first time to wander. At this lookout there is a circular dais with a neat metal legend of sorts which will explain where various other cities are. There is a large stone structure which resembles a house and a lot of different places to watch planes take off and land from Sky Harbor airport. I marked another waypoint and then got back on the VXC to head down the mountain.
Luckily, no traffic on the way down. The twisty turns felt amazing and at the bottom I was able to pull off and conclude my ride on the Victory app and grab a drink of water. As you can see from the screen shots I took, the app was pretty cool way to document the trip. I’m not sure if it goes to a general “cloud” where others can take a look at my ride but I have it saved and there is a share option for when I want to show someone else about this amazing ride.
I cannot recommend this ride highly enough. It is a short ride that will only take an hour or two but the twisty road is conveniently accessible and offers gorgeous looks. But I know this road gets crowded so if you come on a weekend be prepared to be behind a car which will take away from really enjoying the turns. Once a month, the park offers a “Silent Sunday” which prohibits any motorized vehicles on the mountain. And once a month, the San Juan road is open to motorized vehicles. I’ve written about San Juan in a previous post.
The great thing about starting early this particular morning is that I have time to head East for another ride to fill my morning. Next up: Tortilla Flat.